Hamas and Israel: Who Won; Who Lost?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dr. Seif al-Reza Shahabi

With the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire by the Zionist regime and its acceptance by Hamas which ended the 22-day war in Gaza, both Israel and Hamas claim victory. But what is the reality surrounding this battle and its margins?

After Hamas secured most of the parliamentary seats in the 2006 democratic elections and after Ismail Hanieyh became prime minister and voiced opposition against Israel, Hamas was isolated by the US, Europe, certain Arab governments as well as the Palestinian Authority (Mahmoud Abbas) to the extent that the circumstances forced the resistance movement to take control of the Gaza Strip.

At the early months of 2008 a 6-month ceasefire was established between Hamas and Israel at the mediation of Egypt. During this time, new developments occurred in the region and globally, including the election of Barack Obama as the US president. The presence of a Hamas government in Gaza could not be tolerated by Israel, the US, Europe and certain Arab states. For the same reason, these countries decided to finish the job, overthrow Hamas and bring the Palestinian Authority to power in Gaza as quickly as possible. The goal was to renew the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas although his term has come to an end; they aimed to pave the way for resumption of fruitless negotiations between the PA and Israel; and with the arrival of Obama at the White House and his possible speech in Cairo, they wanted to earn some credit for Egypt and at the same time introduce some changes in the region. Then in an optimistic scenario, Hamas would operate as an opposition within the Palestinian Authority or be suppressed in case of continued armed struggle.

But who emerged the winner in this war?

As we witnessed, Israel destroyed almost all the administrative infrastructures in Gaza and inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars in damage which would take years to rebuild. It also martyred more than 1300 Gazans which cannot be made up for; thousand were also injured and a nightmare was created for the Palestinians in Gaza through the war, massacre and destruction in order to bring Hamas under direct and indirect pressure and break its resistance. However, Hamas put up strong resistance like a firebird and was invited to the Doha conference arranged by Qatar thanks to its refusal to surrender.

In the meantime, Israel was exposed to the world as a violent state and lost its image so much so that neutral human rights organizations and the Amnesty International condemned Tel Aviv for its atrocities and human rights violations. Israeli leaders are also likely to be tried at international courts for using phosphorous bombs and other banned arms during their invasion of Gaza.

Hamas on the other hand managed to continue its rocket attacks on Israel up to the last minute. Although the Israeli troops succeeded in penetrating into Gaza by land but they could not find the missile launching pads of Hamas and this is a potential threat against the residents of south of Israel who always feel insecure. This is under conditions that security is the most vital issue for Tel Aviv.

If Hamas continues to take control of Gaza and launches quick reconstruction, then‌ the question is what was all this about? Let’s not forget that the term of Mahmoud Abbas government has ended and his rule is now illegitimate. If real elections take place in the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas is very likely to win because of its recent success.

It seems that the same countries which encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in 1980 have forced Israel to attack Hamas and Gaza in 2008. Almost two years after the end of his war against Iran, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and has covetous eyes on other Arab states as well. He also caused trouble for those who had provoked him to the extent that they decided to launch an attack on Iraq. But Israel dispatched its foreign minister to Washington to sign a security agreement with the US shortly after the ceasefire with Hamas: an agreement frowned at by Egypt.

We should remember that history will not stop today; the Baghdad regime collapsed 20 years after its aggression against Iran and the IRI has now become a regional power and Saddam’s supporters are apparently sorry for arming him; may be time will tell us who won and who lost in the Israeli attack on Gaza.


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